A Good Home, Arabella Magazine, Author Cynthia Reyes, Book Clubs, Book lovers, Books, Books in the Garden, Gardens

Books, Gardens and Bob Marley

I can barely describe how marvelous it is to be the author-guest of a book club again.

I’ve been mostly at home since November – doctor’s orders – rarely venturing out.

But last year I’d accepted two book club invitations for this spring-summer and I really hoped to be able to carry through.  Well, hooray! I did.

Blog Photo - Book Club 1 2014

The first was hosted by Samantha (left) at her lovely Toronto home, where a very animated discussion took place about A Good Home.  The members knew the book very well, and were prepared for a great discussion. I loved being with them.

Thank you, ladies.

The second was The Ladies Literary Liquid Lunch.  (Great name!)

Blog Photo - Book Club Pool and Rock Garden

Blog Photo - Book Club Pond

 The club met in this garden in the countryside near Toronto.

Blog Photo - Book Club Lunch Preparations

Blog Photo - Book Club Linda with tray

Host Linda went all out to capture the Jamaican theme of A Good Home’s early chapters.

Blog Photo - Book Club Table Setting

She set the table in tropical colours.

Blog Photo - Book Club Table Setting CU

With colourful namecards.

Blog Photo - Book Club Name Card

And look at that coconut tree!

Blog Photo - Book Club Under Cocunut tree

As befits a book-club lunch in a garden, Shirley wore red and Sandy wore green.

Blog Photo - Book Club Shirley and Sandy

Members shared news. Joan and others took turns looking at photos of Linda and husband Daryl’s newest grandchild.

“What a sweet little face!”

Blog Photo - Book Club Linda shows Pic of Grandchild

It was time for lunch. A Jamaican menu, of course: jerk chicken, rice ‘n’ peas and a salad.

Blog Photo - Book Club Chicken and Rice

Daryl cheerfully manned the barbecue and played Bob Marley music — of course! That led other book club members to declare him “a hard act for other members’ partners to follow”.

Blog Photo - Book Club and Daryl

The club started “between 14-15 years ago” after one woman, Terri, posted a notice in the local library.

It’s an interesting group — from accountant Linda, to psycho-therapist Pam. There’s realtor Joan,  retired businesswoman Denny and several others.

Surprisingly, I discovered mutual acquaintances — like Debra Usher, my editor at Arabella Magazine.

Blog Photo - Book Club Iron Heron

It was through Denny’s local store in their small town that I got my first copy of Arabella, before the magazine even started publishing my feature stories. And here I was, meeting Denny in person and sharing that story with her!

Blog Photo - Arabella SpringSummer2

Pam, I discovered, is a member of the Heron clan of Heron Road in Ashburn, northeast of Toronto. I know the Heron family’s beautiful original homesteads.

There’s a democratic quality to the LLLL club. Every year, each member gets to choose one book for the club to read.

Blog Photo - Book Club discussion

‘Course, there was that time, earlier on, when everybody read and loved a well-known book. Then, Pam, who’d been silent, announced that she simply hated the protagonist.

Then there was the meeting where everyone had read the same book, but had mysteriously different ideas about the plot and characters. Partway through, they realized they were discussing three different books, all with the same title!

Blog Photo - Book Club and Cynthia

The group enjoys books, and each other.  They’ve even traveled together at times.

It’s yet another benefit of books – bringing people together.

As for A Good Home? The women had many questions, which I hope I answered somewhat intelligently.

And they loved the book. Thank goodness!

Dedicated to book club members everywhere.

5 Star Review, A Good Home, Author Cynthia Reyes, Authors, Book Clubs, Book Clubs' Picks, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Books, Family Stories, Gratitude, Great books, Home, Words

WOW! 5 Stars for A Good Home

A Good Home is 5*****Star Rated!

Rave Reviews President's Seal of Approval
A Wonderful Honour for A Good Home

I’m very thankful for this review.

“Cynthia Reyes is one of the most talented writers of our time!  I opened this book and instantly fell in love with her writing.  If you are a V.C. Andrews or Louisa May Alcott die hard fan as I am, you would have thought you were reading from “FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC” or “LITTLE WOMEN.” Vivid all the way through.

I loved EVERYTHING about this book!  So much so, that I had to personally reach out to the author to let her know how GREAT I found her book to be.

So much so, that I immediately sent out an email to my board members letting them know that they needed to run out to get this book right away.

So much so, that I made it my PRESIDENT’S PICK in our Newsletter, dated May 11, 2014 edition.

So much so, that I hope ONE DAY IT IS A BOOK OF THE MONTH selection because good writing such as this, deserves to be read by all.  I sometimes don’t even bother to get into the detail of a book, especially if the writing is AWESOME because I feel letting you know that it is such a great read should be all that really matters.

Kudos, Cynthia, and thank you for one magnificent, extremely enjoyable book read!”


Here’s what Nonnie, president of Rave Reviews Book Club, said about why A Good Home is the President’s Pick:

I have personally just finished reading this book and let me tell you…all I can say is “Dear Author, please NEVER stop writing!” Aside from being such a well-written book, I cannot put my finger on the one thing that made it ABSOLUTELY GREAT for me.

No, there were many things about this book that literally caused me to “feel” and want to sit down and just discuss anything with the author.

Everyone knows how much I love and appreciate well-written works of art, this one…should be in a gallery!  That’s how GREAT it was.  I say to EVERYONE who is in hearing range of my words right now, you want to read this book.  Get your copy NOW!!!  I promise you a GREAT READ! Check out my full review of “A GOOD HOME” on Monday, 5/12/14 at NONNIE’S REVIEWS!


Thank you, Nonnie Jules, for this wonderful review, and for everything you and the Rave Reviews Book Club do. 

N.B. In addition to being president of Rave Reviews Book Club,  Nonnie is an author of books such as Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend, and The Good Mommies Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Daughters.  She spends a great deal of time reviewing and supporting other writers through RRBC, a volunteer-led organization consisting of book-lovers: readers, writers, publishers and many others.

Most authors will tell you that what they really want to do is write. The fact that Nonnie and the RRBC board take the time to also review new books and support authors across the globe is a huge gift.

Thank you, Nonnie, and the board of RRBC, for what you do.

Blog Photo - Red Poppy


A Good Home, Architecture, Autumn, Book lovers, Fall colours, Interior Design

Up North With The Limberlost Club

All the way north along Highway 400, the leaves on the trees are still green.

An hour from Toronto, there’s just a hint of autumn. The air is fresh and cool. Some leaves – not many yet – on a few trees are turning yellowish or pinkish or reddish.

Our car crosses over bridges, large bodies of lake water on both sides, evergreen cedars and pines and spruces hugging the shoreline. We’re in cottage country now, no doubt about it. It feels like a far way from Toronto, though it’s only a couple hours’ drive.

Book Autum colours

We leave the highways behind. The road narrows and the trees and bushes seem only an arm’s length from my window. Up here, the red, russet and yellow leaves signal that fall has arrived.

“A minute ago, the trees were still mostly green!” says Lisa, who’s driving. MerriLynn and I agree.

We turn right on an even narrower lane, then down a driveway towards the lake. The car pulls up beside a large, two-story,  flat-roofed house that looks like it was built by Frank Lloyd Wright, except that it seems brand new. The exterior is clad with dark brown wood, the roof-line and doors trimmed with black.

Debbie, our host, greets us immediately. She leads us inside. We drop our bags on a hallway bench and follow her.  It’s a stunningly beautiful house – an interesting mix of modern and traditional. A large family room with library is to the left; a big, yet comfy, kitchen and dining area to the right.

Large windows reveal the lake, its surface gleaming in the light, reflecting the pine, white birch and cedar trees that flank the water.

Book - lake and trees

The house, the lake, our hosts – all make us feel welcome and relaxed. We sit at one end of a massive dark maple dining table for a late lunch. The tomatoes, the radicchio, and almost everything else we eat come from Debbie’s sprawling garden near the kitchen.

We rest then head off for a walk down to the dock, then through the woods. Late September. Not the best time for a swim in the lake, but the very best time for a walk in the woods along the shoreline.  No mosquitoes, no deer flies.

The house was built by engineer Jim Lischkoff, designed by son Chris. Debbie’s mother Gladys also lives here. She’s 90.  Perhaps that’s why there’s a feeling of history to this brand-new house, built by family members, loved by three generations of one family.

We ask Gladys about her earlier years: her family and the homes she’s lived in. Her memories, going back to childhood, are clear and vivid. Gladys’ storytelling talents are shared by her daughter Debbie. We sit at the table with them and Gladys’ caregiver Anna, wanting the stories to continue.

In a few hours, it’s evening. We are joined by a steady stream of visitors. The members of Debbie’s book club gather in this beautiful lakeside home.  It is my turn to tell and read stories — about the homes I’ve lived in, the generations of my family, the experiences they and I have shared.

Book October Book Club group

I’m the guest of the Limberlost Book Club, made up of women who live along this lake or others nearby, or in cities, towns and villages in this region. This is my first talk with a book club, and I don’t know what to expect. As I move around the large room, introducing myself to each person, I’m greeted with a friendly smile and a “Hi, Cynthia!”

Of course:  they’ve seen my photo on the back cover of the book. They already know it’s me.

It’s my first time with a group of people who have all read my book, and I decide to try something new: before reading an excerpt to them, before making any comments, I ask the group to share their reactions to the book.

The responses are spontaneous and warm. The women talk about the homes in the book, the characters, the events, the universal themes of childhood, whether one is a young girl in Jamaica or a young girl in Canada.

It’s a lively give and take between my intentions as an author and their reactions as readers. We share thoughts about reflection, redemption, recovery. It all makes for a rich and enjoyable discussion.

Thank you, Limberlost Book Club. And Gladys and Anna, and our mutual friends Lisa and MerriLynn. Thank you, Debbie and Chris and Jim for this stunning yet comfortable house. What a wonderful visit. What a lovely home.

Book October book club Lisa, Debbie and me

A Good Home, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Thank you, Readers

Who was to know that a book completed in a time of such pain and agony would become a comfort and inspiration to so many readers? Not me.

The earlier parts of my book, A Good Home, had been written over 25 years. Some of those stories are hilarious, and I hoped that readers would recognize their own experiences and foibles in these stories, and laugh along with me.

But home isn’t always a fun place to be, and my editors, first readers, family and health professionals felt I also had to write about what happens when a home becomes a prison – as was the case after a car accident left me injured and house-bound for long stretches of time.

Stack of JournalsI finally decided to crack open the journals I’d kept. I hated reading them at first and wept often.

But the insights I gained — from transcribing parts of those journals into story form — are priceless additions to the book. Once added, it became clear that the story I’d been writing for decades – a story about home and family – was finally complete.

Book photo - stack of books

I hoped the book would offer some insights to people going through big changes in their lives – whether it was moving to a new home or dealing with a major life challenge. In fact, this was my main reason for releasing a book that is so personal. But I wasn’t sure how readers would respond.

I got my first clue when a few readers wrote to say “I just couldn’t put this book down” and had stayed up all night to read it.  Several readers said they didn’t want the book to end, and actually slowed down their reading of the last few chapters to savour every word”!


Book photos - cards from Readers

Merri Lynn wrote: “I do not often finish a book sensing a longing for it to continue, a sadness that I have finished it, a desire to know more. Although I read constantly and on a wide variety of subjects, that feeling does not occur often. It just happened with your book.”

On the phone, another reader, Allan, told me:

“Cynthia, your book made me laugh a lot. 

 And then it made me cry. I wept.”

“I’m so sorry, I replied.

“No need, Allan said. “What a wonderful book you’ve written. I’ll probably read it again.”

That’s been a common theme. Many people are re-reading the book. The letters have been pouring in from readers in Canada, the US, the UK, the Caribbean, S. Africa, Denmark and elsewhere. Many are long e-mail letters. Some are short notes — a paragraph or two. Some come in the form of cards and letters, sent in the mail.

One reader, Diane, even sent me a sweet little card of a pink house! (My first childhood home was pink.)

All reveal how deeply they have been touched by A Good Home.

A Godo Home - reader card pink house

I read every letter carefully. Some take my breath away as they describe the depth of feeling and memory evoked by the book. Some surprise me at the insights they got from A Good Home. And then there are those who re-read whole parts of the book for comfort. One of them is Muriel, a gifted artist who struggles with chronic pain. She’s read the book three times. She’s even turned a few quotes from my book into daily mantras that help her cope.

“As Oprah used to say, wrote Sandra, “I want to buy all my friends a copy of this book.” And that’s exactly what a number of readers have been doing. Mae, Anne, Lorna, Carol, Keith, Shirley, Karlene and Lloyd all read the book and loved it, and immediately ordered more copies as gifts for family and friends.  Many of those friends have done the same.  That may explain why some independent bookstores are on their second or third order in a matter of weeks.

Libraries and book clubs are also doing their part. The London Public Library was the first to order my book, followed by public libraries in Waterloo, Kitchener, Toronto and others.  And book clubs are selecting A Good Home . What an honour! Thank you.

I didn’t know what to expect when I completed and published this book.  I am thankful to you, my readers, for the fabulous way in which you have responded to A Good Home. There will be more news to share in the months ahead, and I will. Thanks again.